ST. PETERSBURG - Officer Kenneth Pienik was fired from the St. Pete Police department Thursday due to his behavior during a DUI stop that was caught on dash cam.
A sworn officer since December 2007, the 37-year-old was accused of excessive force, conduct unbecoming an employee and improper procedures stemming from an incident on January 31, 2014 in which he was involved in the DUI arrest.
According to Interim Police Chief David DeKay, officers were dispatched to investigate a report of an unresponsive person in a vehicle which was parked in the parking lot of the North Shore Pool. The responding officers discovered the driver, later identified as Stephen Woodworth, passed out in the driver's seat with the vehicle running.
Officers suspected Woodworth was intoxicated. Pienik, who was assigned to the DUI Unit, responded to assist.
"Good evening Mr. Woodworth...there's a concern you've had too much to drink," Pienik is heard saying on the tape.
Police say when Woodworth became uncooperative, argumentative and asked for a supervisor. Pienik lost his temper, used profanity saying "[expletive] this [expletive]," and threw his clipboard to the ground.
He then grabbed Woodworth and threw him to the ground, a press release states. Once on the ground, Woodworth reportedly refused to comply with officers' commands and held his arms beneath him.
Woodworth was later handcuffed and charged with DUI.
"It's very clear he took inappropriate actions," said Yolanda Fernandez, spokesperson for St. Pete PD.
At a later date, Officer Pienik attended a State Attorney investigation relation to the pending charges. During the course of the investigation, Pienek told Assistant State attorney there was video of the arrest but it was of no evidentiary value and it would "disappear," the interim chief wrote in a memorandum.
The Assistant State Attorney notified her supervisor of Pienik's comments and an official request for the video was submitted by the State Attorney's Office.
According to Chief DeKay, Pienik provided a video that depicted Woodworth being transported to jail instead of the video which depicted the evidence of what preceded the arrest.
"This officer had a definite lapse in judgement," Fernandez added.
The Assistant State Attorney, concerned about the video evidence, requested the entire video from the DUI Unit supervisor and placed it in to evidence. Subsequently, an internal affairs investigation was launched.
DeKay concluded Pienek lost his temper, used profanity and initiated a physical arrest. Pienek was well aware of the requirements for placing such videos into evidence and intentionally did not copy the video to place it into evidence, the memorandum states.
Fernandez told ABC Action News Pienik is not facing any charges for not handing over the entire video.
ABC Action News tried speaking with Pienik at his home but he declined to comment.
We also went to Woodworth's Lithia home but he was no there. A background check shows he has previous arrests for domestic assault, aggravated assault and battery.
TERMINATED OFFICER PREVIOUSLY REPRIMANDED
In May 2013, Pienek received an 80-hour work suspension and removed from his leadership position in a teen program, after the board determined he had an inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old girl.
Pienek served as a leader in the department's Explorer program, a program educating teens about careers in law enforcement.
The board determined Pienek got to know the girl, who was a member of the program, over a period of three months. Then, Pienek began contacting the girl on social media and talking to her without her parents' being aware.
According to police, Pienek was not discussing the program with the teen when he conversed with her.